10 minutes

In the 1970s, government officials decided to gain an idea of the breadth and depth of rural and urban poverty by creating an Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD).

The IMD is a measure of relative and collective deprivation at Lower Super Output Areas for England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Scotlands uses an equivalent to Lower Super Output Areas named Data Zones. It recognises that some individuals living in deprived areas do not themselves live in deprivation. Conversely, some in affluent areas live in deprivation. The measure helps governments at all levels recognise which neighbourhoods as a whole struggle relative to other areas and apply policy accordingly.

England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland all maintain separate IMDs which conform to each area’s unique social, cultural, and economic construct.

NationMost DeprivedLeast Deprived
England132,844
Scotland16,976
Wales11,909
Northern Ireland1890
Deprivation Scores by Nation

As a rule of thumb the lower the number the higher the deprivation!

The government relies on several separate indicators of deprivation to provide a complete picture of each neighbourhood. Analysts consolidate these indicators into seven domains of deprivation to create a single IMD. The resulting numbers provide as objective a ranking as possible for every officially designated neighbourhood (Lower Super Output Areas) across the country.

IMD England

The seven domains for England are :

  • Employment Deprivation Domain (22.5%) charts the level of the population legally approved for work in an area who would like to work but are unable to do so due to lack of available jobs, chronic illness, disability, or responsibility to care for a family.
  • Income Deprivation Domain (22.5%) measures how much lower the income of an area is relative to other neighbourhoods
  • Education, Skills and Training Deprivation (13.5%) charts the skills and career training gap in the local population. The government divides this into two sub-domains: one relating to children and another relating to adults potentially gainfully employed.
  • Health Deprivation and Disability (13.5%) measures the level of possible risk posed by poor physical or mental health and its contribution to early death or the reduction of quality of life. This domain charts a number of health and well-being levels, but not aspects of behaviour that could lead to the same consequences.
  • Crime (9.3%) measures the risk posed by various Types of Crime at the local level. The real and perceived crime levels affect the quality of life, as well as social and economic development
  • Barriers to Housing and Services (9.3%) measures how easily residents can access housing, whether due to physical or financial barriers. The government divides these indicators into two sub-domains: Ëœgeographical barriers, which refer to the closeness and convenience of local services, and Ëœwider barriers which includes issues affordability.
  • Living Environment Deprivation (9.3%) measures the quality of the local living conditions. The government recognises two sub-domains. The inside sub-domain rates the quality of housing; while the outside living conditions measure includes levels of local pollution and traffic accidents

The above Domain scores are combined and ranked using English Lower Super Output Areas (with 1 being the most deprived and 32,844 the least) to create national domain ranks. These values are combined using the weights shown in the brackets above to create an overall Index of Multiple deprivation England.

IMD Scotland

Index of Multiple deprivation Scotland (summary) are released by the Scottish Government, they are a measure of relative and collective deprivation at the Data Zone layer (equivalent to LSOAs), in Scotland these are commonly referred to as neighbourhoods. The IMD Scotland recognises that some individuals living in deprived areas do not themselves live in deprivation. Conversely, some in affluent areas do live in deprivation. The Index of Multiple deprivation measure is designed to help Scotland governments at all levels recognise which neighbourhoods as a whole struggle relative to other areas and apply policy accordingly.

The Scottish government relies on 28 separate indicators of deprivation to provide a complete picture of each neighbourhood. Analysts consolidate the 28 indicators into seven domains of deprivation to create multiple measures of deprivation. The resulting numbers provide as objective a ranking as possible for every officially designated neighbourhood across the country.

The seven subdomains are:

  • The Employment domain (12) is created using 3 indicators, Unemployment Claimant Count averaged over 12 months, Working age Incapacity Benefit or Employment Support Allowance recipients and Working-age Severe Disablement Allowance recipients.
  • The Income domain (12) is created using 5 indicators, Income Support and Income-based Employment Support Allowance claimants (16-59), Job Seekers Allowance and Guaranteed Pension Credit Claimants (All ages), Universal Credit claimants with no employment marker, Number of children in JSA, IS or ESA households and Number of Adults and children dependent on adults in receipt of tax credits.
  • The Crime domain (2) is created using 6 reported crime categories, these include, Domestic housebreaking, Drug offences, Common assault, Crimes of Violence, Vandalism and Sexual offences.
  • The Housing domain (1) is created using 2 indicators, Persons in households which are overcrowded and Persons in households without central heating
  • The Health domain (6) is created using 7 indicators, Standardised Mortality Ratio, Hospital stays related to alcohol misuse, Hospital stays related to drug misuse, Comparative Illness Factor, Emergency stays in hospital, Proportion of population being prescribed drugs for anxiety, depression or psychosis and Proportion of live singleton births of low birth weight
  • The Education domain (6) is created using 5 indicators, School pupil attendance, School pupil performance, Working-age people with no qualifications, 17-21-year-olds enrolling into full time higher education and School leavers aged 16-19 not in education, employment or training
  • The Access domain (4) is created using 2 measures, one based on drive time and other on public transport. Drive time includes time to GP, to retail centre, to petrol station, to primary and secondary schools and post office. Public transport measures time to GP, to retail centre and post office.

The above Domain scores are ranked using Scottish Data Zones (with 1 being the most deprived and 6,976 the least) to create individual domain ranks. Each domain rank is standardised and transformed to an exponential distribution using standard methodology; these values are combined using the weights shown in the brackets above to create an overall Index of Multiple Deprivation for Scotland.

IMD Wales

The Welsh government relies on several indicators of deprivation to provide a complete picture of their neighbourhoods (LSOAs). Analysts consolidate the captured indicators into eight domains of deprivation to create multiple measures of deprivation. The resulting numbers provide as objective a ranking as possible for every officially designated neighbourhood across the country.

The eight subdomains are:

  • The Income domain (23.5%) is created using the Percentage of the population in income deprivation. Those who are in receipt of income-related benefits, in receipt of Tax Credits with an income 60% below the Wales median, or a supported Asylum seeker.
  • The Employment domain (23.5%) is created using the percentage of working-age population in receipt of Employment-related benefits.
  • The Health domain (14%) is created using All-cause death rate, Cancer incidence, Long term limiting illness, and Low Birth Rate.
  • The Education domain (14%) is created using Key stage 2 Average point score, Key stage 4 capped point score, Key Stage 4 Level 2 inclusive absenteeism, Proportion of 18-19-year olds not entering Higher Education, and the Proportion of 25-64-year-olds with no qualifications.
  • The Access to Services domain (10%) is created using Average travel time by public and private transport to the nearest Food shop, GP Surgery, Post Office, Public Library, Leisure centre, Primary and Secondary school, Pharmacy, and petrol station (private transport only).
  • The Community Safety domain (5%) is created using recorded crime in the following categories, Violent crime, Criminal damage, Burglary, Theft, Anti-Social Behaviour, and Fire Incidents.
  • The Physical Environment Domain (5%) is created using Air concentrations, Air emissions, Flood risk, and proximity to waste and industrial sites.
  • The Housing domain (5%) is created using Overcrowding (bedroom occupancy) and lack of central heating measures.

The above Domain scores are ranked using Welsh Lower Super Output Areas (with 1 being the most deprived and 1,909 the least) to create individual domain ranks. These values are merged using the weights shown in the brackets above to create an overall Index of Multiple deprivation Wales.

IMD Northern Ireland

The Northern Irish government relies on several separate indicators of deprivation to provide a complete picture of each neighbourhood. Analysts consolidate these indicators into seven domains of deprivation to create a single Index of Multiple Deprivation. The resulting numbers provide as objective a ranking as possible for every officially designated neighbourhood by Lower Super Output Areas across the country.

The seven domains for Northern Ireland are :

  • The Income domain (25%) consists of 1 indicator, the proportion of the population living in households whose equivalised income is below 60% of the NI median.
  • The Employment domain (25%) consists of one indicator, namely, the proportion of the working-age population (i.e. those aged 18-64 for both males and females) who are in receipt of Job Seeker Allowance, Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance, Carer Allowance, and Employment and Support Allowance, or, who are not in receipt of the selected benefits and have not received income from employment.
  • The Health and Disability domain (15%) consists of nine indicators, including one combined mental health indicator, these are;
    • Standardised preventable death ratio (excluding Suicides)
    • Standardised physical health-related benefit ratio
    • Standardised ratio of cancer registrations
    • Standardised emergency admission ratio
    • Proportion of Singleton Births with Low Birth Weight
    • Standardised ratio of Children Dental Extractions,
    • Standardised ratio of people on multiple prescriptions on a regular basis,
    • Standardised ratio of people with a long-term health problem or disability (Excluding Mental Health problems).
    • The combined mental health indicator includes, ratio of population in receipt of prescriptions for mood and anxiety disorders, Suicide rate, Rate of mental health inpatient stays, Mental health-related benefit ratio, and Proportion of people with Mental Health problems
  • The Education, Skills and Training domain (15%) consists of eight indicators:
    • Proportions of pupils attending Special Schools or attending primary school with Special Education Needs Stages 3-5
    • Absenteeism at Primary Schools
    • Proportions of school leavers not achieving 5 or more GCSEs at A*-C (and equivalent) including English and maths
    • Proportions of those leaving school aged 16, 17 and 18 and not entering Education Employment or Training
    • Proportions of 18-21-year-olds who have not enrolled in Higher Education Courses at Higher Education or Further Education establishments
    • Proportions of pupils attending Special Schools or who are attending post-primary schools with Special Education Needs Stages 3-5
    • Absenteeism at post-primary schools and
    • Proportions of working-age adults (25-64) with no or low levels of qualification.
  • The Access to Services domain (10%) consists of three indicators measuring, Service-weighted fastest travel time by private transport, Service-weighted fastest travel time by public transport and Proportion of properties with broadband speed below 10Mb/s. The services to be included in the private transport travel time are, Accident and Emergency hospital, GP premises, Job Centre or Jobs and Benefits Office, Dentists, Post Office, Pharmacists, Supermarket / Food Store, Opticians, Primary Schools, Libraries, Post-Primary Schools, Day nurseries and Creches, Council Leisure Centre, Financial Services, Large Service Centres and Other general services: Restaurants, fast-food outlets, pubs, filling stations, and health & beauty establishments.
  • The Living Environment Domain (10%) consists of nine indicators, grouped into three sub-domains, these are:
    • Housing quality – Proportion of domestic dwellings that are unfit, Proportion of domestic dwellings in a state of disrepair and Proportion of domestic dwellings without (1) modern boiler, or (2) loft insulation and double glazing.
    • Housing Access – Proportion of population in overcrowded households and Proportion of population with disability without adaptations to dwelling.
  • The Crime and Disorder domain (5%) consists of six indicators, grouped into two sub-domains these are:
    • Crime – Violence (including sexual offences), robbery and public order, Burglary, Theft, Vehicle Crime, Criminal Damage and Arson
    • Disorder – Deliberate Primary and Secondary Fires, Anti-Social Behaviour Incidents

The above Domain scores are ranked using Northern Irish Lower Super Output Areas (with 1 being the most deprived and 890 the least) to create individual domain ranks. These values are merged using the weights shown in the brackets above to create the combined Index of Multiple Deprivation Northern Ireland.

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